Hayden: LMP1 Equivalency “Quite a Tall Order”

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Rebellion Racing team manager Bart Hayden believes it will be “quite a tall order” for LMP1 non-hybrid cars to fight for the overall win against Toyota, in the ACO’s revised regulations that will combine LMP1-H and LMP1-L into a single class for next year.

The reshuffle for the FIA World Endurance Championship, which includes a shift to a winter calendar with the “Super Season” as a transition, will see the performance levels of non-hybrids increased via an Equivalence of Technology.

With power and fuel boosts expected, Hayden, who ran the Rebellion R-Ones LMP1 non-hybrids from 2014-16, believes it still won’t be enough unless the Toyotas are slowed. 

“If they think that Toyota Hybrid can stay where it is and the privateers can step up to reach that, I think that’s quite a tall order,” Hayden told Sportscar365.

“The only way they’re going to get the performance similar is to bring the hybrid down a little bit, which Toyota I’m sure won’t want to happen.

“When they do get the equivalence in whatever way you like, the hybrid is going to have an edge, and you accept that, longer stints or whatever.”

Hayden said the likely efficiency advantage from the hybrids is just one of the questions currently being asked in the championship’s significant overhaul.

It could become a moot point, however, should the Japanese manufacturer elect not to continue beyond this year, with a decision on its future set to be made by next month

“I wonder what Toyota will do?” Hayden asked. “You can read that Toyota won’t be allowed to do it unless they do the whole [Super Season].

“If it turns out they say they do the whole thing, what’s to stop them from pulling out after 2018? They can’t be forced to do it.”

The eight-round Super Season, which kicks off at Spa and May and concludes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2019, could also see a team like Rebellion have to adapt its program.

Hayden admitted it could force teams to look at competing in additional series to help fill the lengthy gaps in the calendar.

“In reality, in the calendar year of 2018, it’s only four races,” he said. “If you’ve got a LMP2 car, you can perhaps bolster your racing in that year by going into the ELMS races or American races.

“But if you look at LMP1, there’s nowhere else to play.

“How do you staff an organization for four races? That’s difficult. There are some challenges with it, as well as opportunities.

“There may be some interesting projects and stuff to come out of it, whether you look at it that there is such a big gap between Le Mans and Fuji, you could maybe do the first two races with a P2 car and have something running in parallel that you bring in from Fuji onwards.

“It’s all ideas at the moment.”

Hayden said it’s too early to speculate if the revised regulations will see the Anglo-Swiss squad return to LMP1 and indicated they’d have a better picture in the coming weeks. 

Its switch to LMP2 was originally established as a two-year program, which has included selected starts in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which wouldn’t be possible with LMP1 machinery.

“We’re still formulating ideas and taking it all in,” Hayden said. “But on a broad brush, the concept is probably positive but the implementation of it, how will that work?”

19 Comments

  1. seth

    September 6, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    it all hangs on Toyota coming back

  2. AudiTT

    September 6, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    You know Rebellion, they’ll not pass up the opportunity to run in LMP1.

    Makes more sense now than when they were previously in the class.

  3. Mike S

    September 6, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Yeah those privateers had a tough time with reliability trying to even finish in the LMP1 class including Rebellion a few years ago. I doubt turning up the wick on the P part of the class will help with reliability of engines or cars. Only factor for Toyota would be to come back for LeMans and actually win it with no competition.

    • GR88

      September 6, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      The privateer cars in recent seasons had to adhere to a tiny fuel allocation, severely limiting power. With free fuel and less electronic limitations, engines like V6TT can comfortably develop over 750bhp.

      • Tyler Sanders

        September 7, 2017 at 7:37 pm

        That is definilty true.

  4. FlyingLobster27

    September 6, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Bart Hayden echoes my thoughts very precisely. Right now, if you want to make your own car, it has to be a P1, because the P2 market closed at the end of 2016. But if you want to campaign a P1 car, it has to be in the WEC, which is a global schedule few privateer teams can afford, and now it’s being reduced to 4 races in 2018. Add to that more regulation changes in 2020, and seriously, who would build a new P1 car now?

    Over the course of a decade, the ACO has managed to obliterate the Le Mans Prototype market by 1. refusing to properly address EoT so that privateers can compete with factories (Henri Pescarolo was complaining about it in the late 2000s), 2. banning P1 from the more affordable continental levels (ELMS most importantly), reducing where these cars can compete to a single, expensive world-spanning series, and 3. reducing the P2 market to four mandated chassis suppliers.
    And now they’re cornered because manufacturers are leaving P1, the privateers aren’t there to pick up the pieces, discouraged by poor EoT and lack of other championships in which to compete, and, as good as the racing is, P2 is a quasi-spec class that won’t cut it as the pinnacle of endurance racing.

    • GR88

      September 6, 2017 at 5:39 pm

      The P1-L regulations are guaranteed through to the end of 2021.

      Whatever the P1-H 2020 regulations are, they’ll be based on P1 homologated chassis. If for instance it’s a new version of DPI, such cars could be based on chassis by Ginetta, Dallara etc. Of course a manufacturer could build a car 100% by themselves.

  5. David

    September 6, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    The ACO just basically built their own coffin essentially giving a Toyota an ultimatum to race or not next year.

    That is not the way to entice manufacturers to stick around. You just saw one manufacturer back out of their agreement. What makes you think the other will not?

    Combine that with the NO DPi for 2018/19 and the WEC could really be on a death spiral.

    But then again lack of manufacturers could be the best thing for the WEC from a competition standpoint because people now see they can have chances to win again.

    So much to take in and consider going forward.

    • TF110

      September 6, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      Sorry, but Toyota want to win Le Mans, so they’ll be back or they’ll not win it. It’s as simple as that. Hayden is a nice guy, but he doesn’t speak for everyone, and certainly not for Toyota. There are other lmp1 teams as well. BR SMP/Dallara, Ginetta, ByKolles will be there according to Neveu. So there’s competition right there. They just need lower weight and more power/fuel. Toyota can be slowed a little with ballast/higher minimum weight. The new rules for non-hybrid cars are very favorable. No one has put up a decent enough package or effort to go for it yet because they’re brand new rules! lol

    • GR88

      September 6, 2017 at 5:47 pm

      No one wants to see Toyota in a handful of races. It makes no sense for the series. For Toyota themselves, they want technological innovation with a hybrid element. Other than F1, that’s off the table in other series. Toyota are also one of the biggest advocates of cost control. The ACO/FIA want to make factory P1 budgets no higher than $50m. Currently Toyota spends over $100m, Porsche likely $150m-$200m.

      If Toyota see a future (marketing & R&D) for hybrids, LMP1 is the only realistic option. That can be achieved with greater competition on budgets 50% less……IF they want to continue.

      If not, Peugeot and others will step in. There has never been a lack of interest in winning overall at Le Mans and the World Championship. Everything comes down to accessibility (budget & tech).

  6. Steven

    September 6, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    I think its time to turn the clocks back. Kill off the WEC. Bring P1 back into IMSA and ELMS. The 24 Hours of Le Mans once again returns as being a “one-off” event that combines the best of the best from all around the world. IMSA, ELMS, AsiaLMS all run the race with the same set of rules or no one from the series is allowed to go to Le Mans.

    For P1, loosen the stranglehold of the hybrid systems. It should be a functional hybrid system that could be used for everyday cars and not just for some one-off Hypercar used in the future or if at all. Another way to get the P1 cars to separate from the P2 field at Lemans and other tracks is the use of the DRS on straights without restrictions. That helps teams get more downforce for the turns while not losing straight line speed.

    The Blancpain GT series is the closest to a true World Endurance Championship anyways. The FIA needs to just focus on saving their golden baby of F1 before that one is too late.

    • E

      September 6, 2017 at 7:21 pm

      Bingo!

    • John

      September 6, 2017 at 11:28 pm

      Precisely.

      The demise of the WEC was predictable back in 2012, when it began.

      Regional series do more to promote sports car racing than an annual visit by an international championship.

      Harmonize the rules, and allow the LM24 to serve as the ‘worlds” for the regional LMSes.

      Let the FIA concentrate on doing what it does best, try to screw up F1. Eventually, it will succeed. They’re well on their way.

      • GR88

        September 7, 2017 at 7:32 am

        What WEC demise? I’ve been watching World Chplampionship sportscar racing since the 1980’s. We didn’t even have regional series (outside IMSA), until the 2000’s.

        The LMP1 class has issues, but just as easily as you lose entries, they can be gained back, i.e. Peugeot, Ginetta, Dallara and so on. All classes look set to have an increased entry in the coming seasons.

        I can only assume you’re from the US, with 10-12 rounds in one nation (plus a Canadian round). Regional series like the ELMS only visit countries once a year, and while nice events, are of a far smaller scale and importance than a World Championship round.

        Let’s not forget an IMSA campaign is comparable budget wise to the WEC. The ELMS is a fraction of that, and it’s structure is why it’s a success.

  7. AudiTT

    September 6, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    There’s been a World Championship for 50 of the last 60 years.

    The ELMS thrives because they use Pro/Am P2 and GTE-Am. They also limit the season to 5-6 rounds, and two day meetings. In addition it’s a platform for P3 and the support Le Mans Cup.In total that’s getting on for 60 cars competing over an ELMS weekend. You don’t change what’s working.

    As for Blancpain, that’s very much a customer focused series based in Europe. They don’t really target fans or the wider media.

  8. Matt

    September 6, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    There’s no reason for Toyota to compete unless another OEM joins as the WEC will only award a GTE world championship next year. Two or more manufacturers are required by FIA regulation for a series to qualify as a World Championship, and no matter how big a private engineering form might be they don’t qualify as one (i.e Ginetta).

    • Anonymous

      September 7, 2017 at 3:30 am

      So it wouldn’t count if Ginetta turned up with say 2 cars run by their own works team? Hypothetically Speaking that is, I’m not saying they will have a works team, that’s not usually Ginetta’s way.

    • GR88

      September 7, 2017 at 7:40 am

      There’s every reason ‘IF’ they want a platform to develop and promote hybrid technology. There’s a 90% chance Peugeot will be in LMP1 by the 2019/20 season if budgets can be reduced to $50m. Such budgets would also attract others, but we don’t know the timeframes.

      Any constructor who pays the manufacturer fee will be eligible for the World Championship, be it Peugeot, SMP-Dallara, Ginetta, McLaren or even Red Bull.

  9. Kirk

    September 7, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    Simple solution. Toyota shows up with four cars, two labeled as Toyota’s and two as Lexus’s. Voila! – a manufacturers battle.

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